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Addressing Burdensome Records Requests via the Rule-Making Power of Condominium Associations

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Records requests can become quite daunting when a board of directors is faced with a high volume of demands from unit owners asserting their right of inspection of the association’s official records.

Section 718.111(12)(c)(1) of the Florida Condominium Act (“Act”) permits condominium associations to “adopt reasonable rules regarding the frequency, time, location, notice, and manner of record inspections . . . .” The Act, however, stops short of defining the limitations on “frequency” and “time”; two terms that have been the subject of arbitration disputes.

Since the Act lacks clarity, arbitration decisions can offer some guidance to associations regarding record inspection rules. For instance, arbitrators consider it unreasonable to limit a unit owners’ records requests to once a month and for only 8 hours within the entirety of the month as well as limiting the number of documents in a single inspection, to just four documents. The arbitrators have concluded that restricting inspections in this manner infringes upon a unit owner’s right of access to inspect the records and is a direct violation of the Act.

When resolving disputes over records requests, the decisions often focus on the overall impact that rules have on record accessibility. Rules that abridge a unit owner’s right to inspection have a lower likelihood of being upheld by the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (“DBPR”). Instead, the DBPR favors rules that provide reasonable accessibility to conduct inspections of the association’s records.

Associations that wish to create reasonable rules regarding records inspections must do so in a manner which aligns with the DBPR’s arbitration decisions to avoid potential conflict. Due to the complexity of this issue, a community association should discuss its proposed rules with their legal counsel prior to implementation.

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